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Considering the high cost of cement, the objective in
mixing concrete is to use more aggregates and as little
cement as possible, while maintaining the workability
necessary for a successful pouring.

For structural concrete poured in inaccessible small areas

around reinforcing bars, it is necessary to overfill the voids
or spaces around the aggregate and reinforcement using a
free flowing cement in water paste form. On the contrary,
pavement where the slab is open and thin with an access
to manipulate from the surface, a drier mixture can be
poured inside the form with ease and access. Thus, a
higher percentage of aggregate and a less fluid cement-
water paste can be used.
On how to reduce the amount of cement-water paste and
the cost of the mixture, we have to:
1. Allow the larger size of aggregate that can be
accommodated in the pavement slab.
2. Ascertain the aggregate is uniformly graded from
coarse to fine.
3. Avail of the biggest quantity of coarse aggregate
consistent with proper workability.
4. Adopt the lowest slump consistent with the proper
pouring and finishing.
For concrete pavement, the specified value of slump is 1-2
or 2-3 inches. The Slump Test (AASHTO T119) is the old
traditional and most widely used method in determining the
consistency of concrete. A truncated cone of metal sheet
12 inches high with the base and top diameters 8 inches
and 4 inches respectively is filled in three layers with fresh
concrete. Each layer is rodded 25 times. Then the cone is
lifted off vertically, allowing the concrete to subside. The
slump is the height in inches that the top of the specimen
Another way of testing consistency of concrete is by the
Kelly Ball Method (ASTM 360). The apparatus is a metal
cylinder 15 centimeters of diameter and 12 centimeters
high with hemisphere bottom shaped weighing 14
kilograms. A graduated handle rising from the top of the
ball passes through a metal frame that is 30 cm apart. The
ball is placed on the surface of the fresh concrete. Its
penetration is measured by comparing its position with that
of the frame.
The advantage of this method is that reading could be
taken immediately on the concrete being poured on the
roadway. On the contrary, the slump test requires more
time but could be conducted only on selected samples.
Concrete mixture is determined by the Trial Batch Method,
until after the desired mixture is obtained as final
proportion for the succeeding mixture.
The fundamental rule to obtain for good concrete is the
proper proportion of cement aggregate and water.

Water for concrete must be clean, free from acids, alkali

and oil. Water that is suited for drinking purposes is
acceptable for mixing cement except water containing
large amount of sulfate.
If concrete is to be strong, sound and durable, the
aggregate must have similar properties.
The mineral aggregate of concrete is about 75% of the
volume or about 80% of the weight of normal pavement,
The maximum size of coarse aggregate is 2 inches.
However, the use of larger aggregates according to
some experienced highway engineers increases its
length and durability. This precept is supported by
reasons that, with larger aggregate, less water is
needed thereby, increasing the ratio of cement to water.
Under the cement-water ratio principle, concrete is
stronger when water content is less.
Water-Cement Ratio

For ordinary concrete (sidewalks and driveways), a w/c

ratio of 0.6 to 0.7 is considered normal. A lower w/c ratio of
0.4 is generally specified if a higher quality concrete is
desired. The practical range of the w/c ratio is from about
0.3 to over 0.8. A ratio of 0.3 is very stiff (unless
superplasticizers are used), and a ratio of 0.8 makes a wet
and fairly weak concrete. For reference, a 0.4 w/c ratio is
generally expected to make a concrete with a compressive
strength (its fc) of about 5600 psi when it is properly cured.
On the other hand, a ratio of 0.8 will make a weak concrete
of only about 2000 psi.
The simplest way to think about the w/c ratio is to think that
the greater the amount of water in a concrete mix, the
more dilute the cement paste will be. This not only affects
the compressive strength, it also affects the tensile and
flexural strengths, the porosity, the shrinkage and the color.
The more the w/c ratio is increased (that is, the more water
that is added for a fixed amount of cement), the more the
strength of the resulting concrete is reduced. This is mostly
because adding more water creates a diluted paste that is
weaker and more susceptible to cracking and shrinkage.
Shrinkage leads to micro-cracks, which are zones of
weakness. Once the fresh concrete is placed, excess
water is squeezed out of the paste by the weight of the
aggregate and the cement paste itself. When there is a
large excess of water, that water bleeds out onto the
surface. The micro channels and passages that were
created inside the concrete to allow that water to flow
become weak zones and micro-cracks.
Using a low w/c ratio is the usual way to achieve a high
strength and high quality concrete, but it does not
guarantee that the resulting concrete is always
appropriate. Unless the aggregate gradation and
proportion are balanced with the correct amount of cement
paste, excessive shrinkage, cracking and curling can
Admixtures-are used to enhance the properties of
concrete for applications in concrete works with
special requirements. Concrete admixtures are
used to modify the properties of concrete to
achieve desired workability in case of low water
cement ratio, and to enhance setting time of
concrete for long distance transportation of
Set-retarding Concrete Admixtures are used to delay the
chemical reaction that takes place when the concrete
starts the setting process. These types of concrete
admixtures are commonly used to reduce the effect of high
temperatures that could produce a faster initial setting of
concrete. Set retarding admixtures are used in concrete
pavement construction, allowing more time for finishing
concrete pavements, and reducing additional costs to
place a new concrete batch plant on the job site.
Air-entrained Concrete Admixtures can increase the
freeze-thaw durability of concrete. This type of admixture
produces a more workable concrete than non-entrained
concrete while reducing bleeding and segregation of fresh
concrete. Improved resistance of concrete to severe frost
action or freeze/thaw cycles.
Water-reducing Admixtures are chemical products that
when added to concrete can create a desired slump at a
lower water-cement ratio than what it is normally designed.
Water-reducing admixtures are used to obtain specific
concrete strength using lower cement content. With this
type of admixture, concrete properties are improved and
help place concrete under difficult conditions. Water
reducers have been used primarily in bridge decks, low-
slump concrete overlays, and patching concrete.
Accelerating Concrete Admixtures are used to increase
the rate of concrete strength development, or to reduce
concrete setting time. Calcium chloride could be named as
the most common accelerator component; however, it
could promote corrosion activity of steel reinforcement.
Nonetheless, concrete best practices such as proper
consolidation, adequate cover and proper concrete mix
design could prevent these corrosion issues. Accelerating
admixtures are especially useful for modifying the
properties of concrete in cold weather.
Shrinkage-reducing Concrete Admixtures are added to
concrete during initial mixing. This type of admixture could
reduce early and long-term drying shrinkage. Shrinkage
reducing admixtures can be used in situations where
shrinkage cracking could lead to durability problems or
where large numbers of shrinkage joints are undesirable
for economic or technical reasons. Shrinkage reducing
admixtures can, in some cases, reduce strength
development both at early and later ages.
Superplasticizers main purpose is to produce flowing
concrete with a high slump in the range of 7-9 inches to be
used in heavily reinforced structures and in placements
where adequate consolidation by vibration cannot be
readily achieved. The other major application is the
production of high-strength concrete at w/c's ranging from
0.3 to 0.4. It has been found that for most types of cement,
super plasticizer improves the workability of concrete. One
problem associated with using a high range water reducer
in concrete is slump loss. High workability concrete
containing super plasticizer can be made with a high
freeze-thaw resistance, but air content must be increased
relative to concrete without super plasticizer.
Corrosion-inhibiting Admixtures fall into the specialty
admixture category and are used to slow corrosion of
reinforcing steel in concrete. Corrosion inhibitors can
significantly reduce maintenance costs of reinforced
concrete structures throughout a typical service life of 30
40 years. Other specialty admixtures include shrinkage-
reducing admixtures and alkali-silica reactivity inhibitors.
Corrosion-inhibiting admixtures have little effect on
strength at later ages but may accelerate early strength
CLASSES OF CONCRETE (by proportion)

Lean Concrete-if the cement content is about lesser

than 10%. Commonly used under the floors and
foundations. (Examples 1:4:8 and 1:6:12 cement-sand-
coarse aggregate ratio by weight)
Normal Concrete-if the cement content is about 10 to
15%, used in floor finishes and reinforced cement
concrete. (Example 1:2:4 cement-sand-coarse agg.
ratio by weight)
Rich Concrete-if the cement content is more than
about 15%. Architectural purposes. (Example 1:1.5:3
cement-sand-coarse aggregate ratio by weight)